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Estonia’s oil shale industry is a traditional Estonian industry, founded during the First Republic. local oil shale industry provided heat and light to Estonian households starting from 1924, and supplied household gas to Leningrad and Tallinn as well as other Northern Estonian towns.

The list of products made in Kohtla-Järve through decades is rich and varied – from shale oil to fine chemicals, epoxy resins to nitrogen fertilisers, hair dye components to bitumens.

Currently, the key products in VKG’s portfolio are various shale fuel oils and highly refined fine chemicals based on shale fuel oils. Traditional technologies are supplemented by new and efficient ones that allow extracting more useful components from oil shale while conserving the environment. During the early years of the industry, about 30-40% of the energy in oil shale was extracted; nowadays, we utilise over 80% of it.

The recent history of Viru Keemia Grupp dates back to the privatisation of RAS Kiviter in 1997. The former Kiviter has become a modern industrial enterprise with over 1 800 employees developing and advancing Estonia’s biggest industry.

Our journey

The Estonian oil shale industry is born due to the fuel crisis that occurred during the First World War

24 November 1918
The first Estonian oil shale enterprise RAS Esimene Eesti Põlevkivitööstus is established

A test oil factory with a capacity of 40 t/day is opened in Kohtla-Järve

Four Kiviter oil shale factories are built

A new oil shale processing complex is built in Kohtla-Järve

Household gas is pumped to Leningrad and Tallinn

1951 and 1981
The construction of the 5th oil factory and the 1,000-tonne gas generator is completed

The first tonnes of benzene and toluene are produced

27 November 1997
RAS Kiviter is privatised and VKG is established

2009 … 2014 … 2015
Petroter I, II and III are opened

The Ojamaa mine starts producing oil shale, the opening ceremony of the mine is held on 31 January 2013

A unique 12.5 km aboveground covered conveyor is opened

2008 … 2014 … 2016
The first Estonian enterprise to deploy flue gas desulphurisation technology

All raw materials and waste products move in eco-friendly conveyor systems

Construction of the Uus-Kiviõli mine was started

Oil shale on postage stamps and banknotes


For the 80th anniversary of the oil shale industry in Kohtla-Järve, Lembit Lõhmus designed a special stamp and envelope.

In 2016, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the industrial extraction of oil shale in Estonia. The enterprises in the industry released a commemorative stamp and envelope for the occasion.

The oil shale industry has been recognised on the national level multiple times throughout history. In 1930, the 100-kroon banknote featuring the first oil shale factory in Estonia in Kohtla-Järve, designed by G. Reindorff, was released.